Thursday, July 9, 2009

Product Review: 2009 Upper Deck Icons Football

UD's first post premiere product is live today, and you can expect that there are very high expectations for one of the most popular products of last year in terms of sales. Ill tell you the truth, I hated this product last year, and I still don’t know if that hatred has left my system. Having the manu-letters in this set without signatures, as well has having some non-sports parts to this set makes me weary, but other parts of it are very exciting to me.


Although this set was ugly last year, the design has MUCH improved. Working with curved lines instead of the stone cutouts has done wonders, and actually shows a lot of good design work. I may go after a few of the autoed base parallels, as UD has done a really good job not making the stickers look out of place.

Even though the idea of the unsigned manu-letters is ridiculous, the design of the cards is really awesome. Considering that most of the letters have signed parallels, I may actually want a few of them. They actually pulled off the letters in this set really nicely. The problem is that some of the letters get cut off by the tapered window, but I am okay with that based on the overall presenation. In fact, I think the quality of the manu-letter material seems to have gone up from the few boxes I saw broken, so that is a great upgrade.

The idea of still having the rookies in their college unis really bugs me, especially with the time to get the correct pics in there, and the lack of on card autos in this set. We are far enough past the premiere to have NFL cards, so that is a MAJOR let down. Despite the lack of updated unis, the cards of the rookies look really cool, putting elite to shame for sure. Most of the pics I have seen of the players on the cards look great, I think the pic choosers have really done some great work this year for all UD products.

As for the returning die-cut cards, I really dislike that inclusion in this set. Although it gives buyers another aspect to collect from this product, I am over diecut cards, and have been since the 1990s. There are better options for paralleling stuff, and diecutting should be axed from the playbook in my opinion. I will say, the diecuts do fit the design of the cards, but I could never see myself going after those.

Lastly, UD has seemingly made their own rules for this set and printed a lot of it on foilboard, or some weird variation of it. Its not mirrored and its not too rainbow, so its not as bad as the Donini eyesores, but its still looks awful on a lot of the cards. That was not fun to see. It also looked like they copied a page out of Prestige Chrome and had some insert parallels done the way Donini usually does them. That made me scared for the future, especially if UD is going to adopt more of what Donini does.

Rating =

Autograph Cards

The autos in this set are stickers, except for the letters, which is kind of a let down, but they have done a pretty good job in making the stickers fit. When I first saw the autos that my friend got, I thought they actually were on card, so a win there.

The autographed letters look great, and should be a chase for the collectors of those players. The design pops in front of your face, and they fit in really nicely with the design themes of the set.

I have said before that I am a big fan of base auto parallels because the base cards always look better with a signature. This set plays that out to my advantage, and I am very excited for some of the ones I may get to go after.

Lastly, this is the set that has utilized the now defunct sweet spot helmets for the celebrity auto set they are doing for the product. Im not going to support the assignment of celebrities to a certain related team, though the cards look like they are pretty cool from the previews we got. We know that the Kardashian spectrum auto from baseball was a huge hit, these will probably be similar. However, I think it will be hillarious if she breaks up with Bush before the autos are fufilled.

NOTE: I also wanted to congratulate the guy who thought to put Jared Allen into this set, as I have already set an eBay reminder for the one that is ending soon. He has had zero parts to any set in terms of autos since the year after his rookie year, and I am PSYCHED to have an auto or two to chase.

Rating =

Relic Cards

Man, I am very sorry to report that we have the first floating swatch cards of 2009 from Upper Deck in this product. On a few of the jersey subsets, the swatches are horribly placed, even covering up player pics on some of them. That should never be allowed for a card, and I am really fucking pissed that it is becoming a trend.

Also, it seems like with all the windows for this set, they are surrounded by a faded border that looks weird. Its like the jersey isnt fitting into the stock and they have to bend the card a little to help it. THAT NEEDS TO STOP.

Honestly, Im getting fucking bored with non-autoed swatch cards, and Icons has its fair share. Ill pass on all these.

Rating =

Value To The Collector

I think that this set should hold value, especially in the signed letters and the sweet spot celebrities. The checklist for both is pretty good, and the bust for this product is more worth it because of stuff like that. For the price, this stuff is a pretty good bust, especially now that the cards look ten times better than last year.

The problem with Icons is that the rookie part of the set will surely be eclipsed a million times over when UD releases stuff that is not college uni. I would wait before purchasing any of those autos, hold off for calmer waters on price too.

Although this set has some problems, it may be worth your time to buy a box or two just to pass the time. There are enough HOFers, stars and celebs in the set to balance out the scrubs, and you could get very lucky.

Rating =

Overall Impression

For what this product was supposed to be, its kind of a bummer to me. I wish that we could have had some awesome rookie parts to this set, and I really dislike the constant celebrity invasion to every set that comes out.

Hopefully, as the year moves forward, there are a lot more products that exceed the hype than those that fall short. I know that Donini may start to figure things out, and Topps is gearing up for the base set and chrome, meaning that UD needs to stay on the ball. This set didn’t show a lot of that to me.

Average Rating =

2009 Product Leaderboard (SO FAR)

1(t). UD Icons Football (3/5 GELLMANS)
1(t). UD Heroes Football (3/5 GELLMANS)
1(t). UD Draft Edition (3/5 GELLMANS)
3(t). Donruss Classics (2/5 GELLMANS)
3(t). Donruss Elite (2/5 GELLMANS)
3(t). Playoff Prestige (2/5 GELLMANS)
3(t). Bowman Draft Picks (2/5 GELLMANS)


  1. No excuse not to have the NFL unis on the rookies. Definitely staying far away from this stuff.

    Besides, I've moved to on-card auto products only. You kids can have your sticker autos. I'm done with them.

  2. Eh. That's the best I can do on this. It's neither win nor fail. It's just kinda there. To me it is a tweener product coming out 4 weeks too late.

    The boxes I have seen opened have a lot of plain letterman with no autos. That never made sense to me in the least. If you are going to have a manufactured letter, then make it autographed.

    Don't see me buying any, but I can see where it might interest some as it is probably the nicest looking college uniform product out there.

  3. I just started following this blog and read this and then the UD-Bias post, and they seem to fit well together.

    I can understand that you'd give them a pass on showing them in their College Uniforms, but...


    Nowhere on my beautiful Jason Smith Autograph is his NFL team. For all I know, he's still playing out 2009 as a Baylor Bear.

    So how is this not a deal breaker this late in the season?

  4. Wow, are you serious? I didnt catch that! Sorry, that is inexcusable for them to omit that shit.